Hawke Ranks 66 Chris Hero Matches from 2016
Chris Hero’s 2016 was historic in terms of in-ring quality. I’m still hoping to track down AT LEAST every singles match he had from 2016. It was that kind of year. In the meantime though, here are all 66 matches of his from 2016 that I have seen, ranked from worst to best.
65. Chris (Brother) Hero & Matt Hardy vs. Trevor Lee & Andrew Everett – AAW – 11/4/2016
Broken Matt’s pre-match promo was the only worthwhile part of this one. I’m not sure how to bring Broken Matt to the “workrate” indies, but this was probably not it. Whatever. (*)
62. Chris Hero vs. John Wayne Murdoch – IWA-MS – 11/5/2016
Ted Petty Invitational Tournament 2016 Final Match
This was INSANELY long. I have no why all of Hero’s matches went so long on this one-night tournament, but they did. And they were all mostly boring. Hero won after an avalanche piledriver. (*1/2)
58. Chris Hero vs. Rickey Shane Page vs. Trik Davis vs. Corey Storm – IWA-MS – 11/5/2016
Ted Petty Invitational Tournament 2016 Semi Final Four Way Match
The great majority of this match featured all three veterans beating up the child pictured above. It took a REALLY long time to get him eliminated. That story dominated the initial period of the match that all momentum was lost when the child was finally eliminated. All the action with RSP, Trik, and Hero afterwards felt meaningless in comparison unfortunately. By the time Hero finally eliminated RSP to win the match, my interest was completely gone. (Hopefully, those two can square off in a different context soon.) (**)
57. Chris Hero vs. Evil Uno – PWG – 3/4/2016
56. Chris Hero, Zack Sabre Jr., & Brian Cage vs. Rey Mysterio, Ricochet, & Matt Sydal – WrestleCon – 4/2/2016
55. Chris Hero vs. Matt Tremont – Beyond – 1/31/2016
54. Chris Hero vs. Roderick Strong – PWG – 1/2/2016
53. Chris Hero vs. Tommy End – PROGRESS – 5/30/2016
52. Chris Hero vs. Marty Scurll – PROGRESS – 6/19/2016
51. Chris Hero vs. Josh Bodom – RPW 6/12/2016
50. Chris Hero vs. Zack Sabre Jr. – wXw – 9/29/2016
49. Chris Hero vs. Michael Elgin – IWA-MS – 5/13/2016
48. Chris Hero vs. Zack Sabre Jr. – AAW – 10/8/2016
47. Chris Hero vs. Silas Young – AAW – 3/18/2016
46. Chris Hero vs. Kongo Kong – AAW – 10/7/2016
45. Chris Hero vs. Jeff Cobb – PWG – 5/20/2016
44. Chris Hero vs. Big Daddy Walter – PROGRESS – 5/30/2016
43. Chris Hero vs. Brian Fury – Beyond – 11/20/2016
This was fine, but the idea that Fury should be going over Hero on his retirement tour was absolutely absurd. There are very few wrestlers that are on a level where it feels appropriate for them to go over Hero at this point. Fury would be one of the last people you would pick for such a booking decision.
The match itself was fine. It was clearly disappointing though given Hero’s 2016. It was just missing the energy that a lot of the best Hero matches have had. He didn’t seem to interject his personality quite as much either which gave the match a lower ceiling that it theoretically should have had. Oh well. Fury won cleanly via submission. (**1/2)
39. Chris Hero vs. Arik Royal – NOVA – 11/25/2016
This was just one of those matches that did not really work for me. I could appreciate what they were going for, and it was notable that the crowd was really into it. It left me a little cold though.
Hero tried to wrestle his normal match. Royal didn’t really play along though and allow himself to get bullied. The match felt like it was about making Royal seem like Hero’s equal in some ways (at least in NOVA Pro).
That makes a ton of success for NOVA Pro as a company, and the fans clearly appreciated it. Coming in mostly cold to NOVA Pro as a whole, this story felt unearned and odd. Fans of NOVA Pro will probably like this one much more than I did. (**1/2)
38. Chris Hero vs. Johnathan Wolfe – IWA-MS – 11/5/2016
Ted Petty Invitational Tournament 2016 First Round Match
The main takeaway from this match was that Hero repeatedly taunted Wolf’s parents in the crowd while beating up their son. Just lovely fucking stuff. Wolf also sold like every bit of offense he took was death. Loved it.
Other than that, this was way too long. Hero did such a great job in 2016 is in showing how quality over quantity was the key to good wrestling. This could have been a dynamite 8-9 minute match. It had too much dead air though when it was all said and done. (**3/4)
35. Chris Hero vs. Keith Lee – Beyond – 12/29/2016
Hero’s matches with the fellas closer to his size really struggled to come together in 2016. There was a logic to them. They sold a ton. The matches always featured hard. Hero just has not quite figured out how to work big guys in a compelling manner, and it’s hard to comprehend what exactly is going wrong. They are just kind of dull even when they are perfectly fine like this one. Oh well. He had plenty of great matches to celebrate in 2016. Hero won after a Gotch piledriver. (**3/4)
(Now for the good matches.)
31. Chris Hero vs. Jushin Liger – PWG – 9/2/2016
This was a first round match in the 2016 BOLA.
While this probably would have been better with a healthy Chris Hero, this was still neat to see and a success overall.
They got by with less here given who they were for sure. There was no substantive in-ring story, and they did not deliver anything too memorable. However, the general story of Hero being disrespectful towards the legend was good enough.
It would have been great to see Liger get a mini-run in this tournament, but Hero winning clean was probably the right call all things considered. (***)
29. Chris Hero vs. John Silver – Beyond – 12/11/2016
While this was far from Hero’s best effort in 2016, this match really crystallized how fool-proof his formula is with the smaller opponents. This match featured Hero half-assing and really slowing Silver down from his normal pace. However, the dynamic of Hero taking on his smaller opponent still worked really well!
Silver got to mix in a few of his power spots. He had some of Hero’s trademarked stuff scouted out and looked good for doing so. Hero then paid for his overconfidence and got caught with a fruit roll-up which gave Silver the win. (***1/2)
25. Chris Hero vs. Tracy Williams – Evolve – 3/19/2016
This was the good stuff. They basically worked the story of Hot Sauce being really focused on proving he was on Hero’s level. Hero gradually started fighting with more and more ferocity as Hot Sauce proved over and over again to be very difficult to put away. While I would argue they went a bit overboard with the kickouts, they did not feel obnoxious or anything. The crowd also stayed with them pretty much all the way, and the Hot Sauce seemed to leave the match way more over than when he entered. Good stuff. Hero won with a Gotch piledriver. (***1/2)
22. Chris Hero vs. Dick Togo – Evolve – 12/10/2016
This was the quality contest that you would expect from these two. Hero controlled the majority of the match. Togo fought back with fire, intensity, and cleverness. Hero tried to overcome that, but he got caught with the pedigree and Togo senton which kept him down for the three. In a year full of amazing Hero matches, this one does not stand out. It was very good though. (***1/2)
20. Chris Hero vs. Jojo Bravo – SLA – 2/14/2016
This was yet another very good Hero match from 2016. The story was obvious as Jojo is a very wee lad, and Hero knows just what to do with such people. Hero being a bit more patient in the early goings felt oddly appropriate for some reason and made his period of control all the more satisfying. Jojo probably got TOO much in the final stretch, but that did not bring the match down considerably. Make sure you want this match. It’s a gem from Hero’s 2016. Hero won after a death blow. (***3/4)
16. Chris Hero vs. Kyle Matthews – SCI – 8/5/2016
Watch the Scenic City Invitational here.
Scenic City Invitational First Round Match
It’s so nice when a booker recognizes how to maximize their use of Chris Hero in 2016. He is the biggest and baddest motherfucker. He beats up little wrestlers and eats them for all seven meals a day. It’s glorious. Just glorious. The little wrestlers then do their best to fight back and look for openings to do any damage. They may seem close. They may seem to be making some headway. Then Hero finishes them off. And it’s very good or great every time. All fucking hail. (***¾)
13. Chris Hero vs. Matt Riddle – Evolve – 3/20/2016
Oh, this was so very good. Matt Riddle has been acting like the cock of the walk since he arrived in Evolve, and it was ever-so glorious to see Hero just beat him the fuck up here.
Hero looked world-class as usual. He dominated Riddle while being a slight dick about it (including sullying himself by attacking Riddle’s poor bare feet). Riddle meanwhile got to show off his tremendous ability to work underneath which was extra impressive given that he is a heel and Hero is a beloved indie figure.
The finish was great at both being satisfying in the moment while clearly allowing for a rematch (that I need yesterday). Hero went for the Gotch piledriver, but Riddle reversed it into a triangle. That was not putting Hero away though so he transitioned into an armbar to force Hero to tap out. Very fun stuff! (***3/4)
12. Chris Hero vs. Jonathan Gresham – Beyond – 2/28/2016
You can watch this match here.
Gresham and Hero are two of the best going today. Despite all their international travelling, they actually had never met up before this match. Thankfully, chemistry was not an issue.
They did a fantastic job here of letting a story organically unfold while keeping it compelling the whole time. They started out battling for control with some smooth action. Hero eventually started to get a little cocky and then remembered he does not need to waste time being technical when he’s got eight inches and a hundred pounds on Gresham. Hero used his size advantage to get control for a while.
As soon as Hero began acting like a bit of a prick, Gresham starting to go at his left knee. Gradually over the course of the rest of the match, Gresham’s work on the knee caused more and more damage. Hero did a masterful job of selling the damage so that it seemed the pain was getting worse and worse as opposed to alternating between selling big and not selling at all.
Hero got desperate and pulled out two desperation snap piledrivers to give himself some breathing room. It seemed like he had the match well in hand, but Gresham ended up winning with a fruit roll-up. The finish felt a little anti-climatic, but it did make you want a rematch. That needs to happen in Beyond as soon as possible. Great match. (****)
10. Chris Hero vs. Mark Andrews – PROGRESS – 5/29/2016
This was a first round match in the Super Strong Style tournament.
This was exactly what you would expect it to be and thus exactly what you would want it to be. Chris Hero was being big, cocky fucker self. Mandrews was being flippy and small. They probably did a few too many kickouts down the stretch, but this was a barrel of laughs. (****)
9. Chris Hero vs. Mat Fitchett – AAW – 10/8/2016
This was a Jim Lynam Memorial Tournament Quarter Final Match.
In case you have not noticed, Chris Hero beating up little people is fucking awesome. Hero is cocky, hard-hitting, ruthless, arrogant, and is the best in the world at beating people up. It’s so beautiful to watch every time. Fitchett takes a great beating. It’s a match made in wrestling heaven quite frankly.
When you combine that natural dynamic with an energetic crowd and really well-timed and believable comebacks, you end up with one of the most compelling matches of the year. This was one of the best matches in AIW history. Hero won obviously. (****1/4)
8. Chris Hero vs. Matt Riddle – Evolve – 10/16/2016
This was just effortlessly wonderful. It’s almost unfair just how easily these two are able to produce greatness in the ring without a significant in-ring story or outside storyline providing a hook.
The match was Hero trying to dominate as usual early on. Riddle firing back to prevent himself from getting too far behind. Hero turning it on to get the advantage. Hero then casually controlled the match some more without it ever feeling like he was wasting time. Riddle fought back, and they tried to finish each other from there on out.
It was dramatic, exciting, and the tension increasing organically from beginning until the end. It was fantastic professional wrestling. Hero won via elbow as he’s wont to do. (****1/4)
7. Chris Hero vs. Matt Riddle – Evolve – 11/13/2016
Coming off a shocking loss to Hot Sauce the night before, Chris Hero came into this match not fucking around one bit. Just as Hot Sauce jumped him the night before to get the advantage, Hero jumped Riddle here to get the advantage. From there, Hero practically squashed Riddle for ten minutes. It was beautiful.
Riddle fought back of course, but he really stood no chance against Hero on this night. Chris Hero came into this match looking to reestablish dominance, and he did just that. This was a helluva match. (****1/4)
6. Chris Hero vs. Trevor Lee – AAW – 4/9/2016
What else needs to be said about Chris Hero’s work right now? He is a master of the ring at the moment. He makes everyone he faces look like they’re far greater than they actually are. He has every crowd in the palm of his hand. He has managed to legitimately present himself as someone bigger (joke not intended) than independent wrestling. That kind of presentation allows him to come off like a special guest in companies that he regularly works for. His in-ring run is something special, and it needs to be appreciated.
The structure of the match should not be surprising. Hero was being a dick. Lee was the underdog. Hero dominated him. Lee kept fighting back and fighting back until it seemed like there was a legit chance he could win. The crowd was into it from the beginning and only got hotter as the match went on. The fact that they even went a bit overkill with the nearfalls kind of worked, and it led to a great overkill finishing sequence from Hero to make sure that Lee stayed down for the three finally. I loved this match. Seek it out. (****1/4)
5. Chris Hero vs. Fred Yehi – Evolve – 4/2/2016
Chris Hero is just on a higher level right now as a performer compared to the rest of the world. This was yet another match where he turned in a world-class performance and made his (already very well-respected) opponent look like one of the very best wrestlers in the world.
The story was flawless and right up my alley. Hero came into the match full of his swagger. The fans treated him in a manner that only fed his ego. Yehi was completely out-matched due to the size differential. Hero dominated a large portion of the match, but Yehi would have a million small comebacks where he just pick away at Hero. He got in shots where he could to find the chinks in the armor. He eventually connected on some bigger offense as well.
He picked away at Hero slowly but surely and progressively made the match more competitive. Hero’s advantage never fully went away though, and he eventually finished off Yehi cleanly with the ripcord elbow.
I loved every moment of this match. Fantastic work by both men, and it was an excellent way to put a heel over cleanly while making both men look better after the match. (****1/4)
4. Chris Hero & Tommy End vs. Zack Sabre Jr. & Sami Callihan – Evolve – 1/22/2016
This was a first round match in the Evolve Tag Team Championship Tournament.
This was one of the best tag team matches that the US indie scene has produced in quite a long time.
Hero and End, despite being a first-time team to the best of my knowledge, came into this match as if they had been working together for years. Sami and Zack felt like two individuals who did not prepare to work together at all.
Naturally, Hero and End controlled the majority of the match, and they did so in compelling fashion. The latter was accomplished by just destroying Zack over and over again. My gawd, this was an excellent beating. Zack did of course escape eventually for the Sami hot tag. Sami actually made a decent comeback despite his strength as a performer usually being taking a beating.
Obviously, that Sami hot tag turned into an extended back-and-forth sequence to close out the match. What was surprising though was how excellent the selling and the pacing was during that closing stretch. After finally tagging out, Zack disappeared for a LONG time. That is so crucial to making a big beatdown seem meaningful and not like a waste of time.
Everything was just done so well after this point. There was great action with some genuinely surprising twists and turns in the battle for control. Zack and Hero in particular were just phenomenal when they were in the ring together. They might have the best chemistry of anyone in wrestling at the moment, and it was a delight to see them go at it again here.
Finally, the last thing I loved about this was that Zack eventually was the one to take the fall. He survived a ton throughout the match, but his kickouts always seemed to be losing more and more stream throughout the contest. It looked like he was going to be able to withstand a one-on-one battle with Hero, but End then jumped in out of nowhere with a (sloppy) double stomp to set Zack up for defeat. Just great stuff.
In all honesty, this was one of the best matches in Evolve history. Seek it out. (****1/2)
3. Chris Hero vs. Tomohiro Ishii – RPW – 11/10/2016
This was bloody fantastic. They worked the exact match that they needed to work in order for them to reach their full potential together.
Hero went into this match knowing he had the throw the kitchen sink at Ishii. He did just that. Ishii was clearly not really prepared for the onslaught and took more continuous damage without fighting back than he normally does. He did eventually start to fight back and then things got serious.
They timed every mini-comeback from Ishii perfectly after that and created an incredibly dramatic match where it seemed like either guy could win. They even managed to work in some no-sell spots in ways that were not obnoxious. (Always impressive.) This was one of the best matches of the year. (****1/2)
2. Chris Hero vs. Tracy Williams – Evolve – 11/12/2016
This match was fantastic. It started with a bang, as Hot Sauce jumped Hero from behind with a German. That set an urgent pace for the match and forced Hero to not really relax at any point in the match.
The match progressively and organically settled into the story of the bigger Hero battling the fiery Hot Sauce. This was performed as well as you would expect, and the crowd was absolutely rabid for it.
They also managed to allow Hot Sauce to win cleanly and decisively by submission in a way that felt earned. While Hero has been dominant for large portions of 2016, they told a great story here about how he is still susceptible to smaller guys who can stay a step ahead of him and who are not afraid to punch him in the nose. This was brilliant. (****1/2)
1. Chris Hero vs. Timothy Thatcher – Evolve – 6/10/2016
This was for Thatcher’s Evolve Championship.
As someone who is fairly in the middle when it comes to Thatcher (he’s had some great matches and some real bores in the last couple of years), it has been entertaining to see factions form in regards to him. Some people seem to think he is one of (if not) the best in the world. Others find him to be horrible almost all the time. Both sides are wrong of course, and I am right (as always).
This seems like one of those matches that both sides could get into though (similar to how I felt about the Thatcher/Gargano match from last year). Thatcher did a lot of the stuff that he tends to do but organically blended it into a more crowd-pleasing kind of match.
Hero tried to get control early. Thatcher went after the leg. Hero avoided him doing too much damage though and then went to town on Thatcher. Thatcher then did something surprising: he changed up his strategy. Instead of going after the arm to set up the Fujiwara, he started throwing BOMBS at Hero. This weakened Hero enough to give my fellow Brit a chance to win.
They did some spots that played off their trademark offense before Thatcher managed to apply the Fujiwara to win the match. This was a beautifully worked, compelling from beginning to end, and continued one of the best in-ring rivalries going today. Check it out. (****1/2)
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